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Horsin’ Around In McLaren Park: RPD’s Two-Month Trial Finishes

Deena Minwalla rides a horse through McLaren Park on Saturday, May 13, 2017. Emma Marie Chiang/Ingleside-Excelsior Light

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Photographs by Emma Marie Chiang

Back in March, John McLaren Park activists were surprised by Recreation and Parks Department’s announcement that horses would spend two months at McLaren and Golden Gate Parks.

The pilot program with horses ended May 20 and the faithful steeds have gone to their summer home at Camp Mather.

RPD expected the news to go down well and, at Golden Gate Park, the news was welcomed. The park already had equestrian police, and the new tourist-friendly rental horses were welcome too.

Meeting notes from a March 16 McLaren Park Collaborative meeting show an hour-long debate ensued from the RPD proposal.

Concerns included a lack of notice and possible trail conflicts: horses could complicate the ongoing right-of-way fight between bicyclists and pedestrians and cause extra wear to trails, participants pointed out.

The horses, provided by Pot Of Gold Adventures, may ride again in McLaren Park. RPD is analyzing feedback from the trial period.

Possibly swayed by the McLaren Park community’s initial reaction to the horses, two residents created a petition in May calling on neighbors to “make McLaren fun again” by allowing horses.

Horses could attract more families to McLaren Park, increase safety by having more eyes in the park, eventually attract more funding and resources in the long term, Chuck and Trilce Farrugia argued in an email announcing the petition.

“Let’s give the kids of the southeast a piece of the pie for a change and make the park safer for all in the end,” they wrote.

For more information or to provide feedback to RPD, visit www.sfrecpark.org.

Original community journalism takes money, time and hard work. You can now support the Light on Patreon. Visit www.patreon.com/ielight to sign up.

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